Stephen Harper offers 'additional help' on Iraq in call with Obama
Harper supports Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes in Iraq
U.S. President Barack Obama took time away from his annual family vacation retreat at Martha's Vineyard, Mass., to call Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the situation in Iraq.
A statement by the White House said the two leaders exchanged views about their respective roles in supporting the Iraqi people amid a worsening humanitarian crisis.
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"The two leaders agreed to work with other partners in the international community to provide additional, immediate humanitarian assistance, and to continue developing options to secure the safety of the civilians on Mount Sinjar," said the White House.
"They discussed efforts to counter the threat posed by ISIL [ISIS] against all Iraqis and agreed on the need for Iraqi political leaders from all factions to put aside their differences and to form an inclusive government capable of pulling the country together."
In a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, Harper denounced the "barbaric actions" of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) group and expressed his support for Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes in northern Iraq.
"They agreed on the need to confront the barbaric actions of the terrorist organization ISIS/ISIL and Prime Minister Harper expressed his strong support for U.S. airstrikes against the terrorists as well as ongoing humanitarian relief efforts."
Harper told Obama that Canada stands ready to offer "additional help."
"Both leaders shared their hope that a new Iraqi government would be able to unite behind an inclusive government to counter the current crisis. They agreed to stay in close contact on this matter," the prime minister's office said.
Canada pledged on Sunday $5 million in humanitarian aid with $2.25 immediately going to three organizations the government called trusted humanitarian partners on the ground: the International Red Cross, Mercy Corps and Save The Children Canada.
Canada's duty to help
In an exclusive interview airing Tuesday on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Canada's ambassador to Jordan and Iraq said he is working on the ground with government officials and religious leaders to get Canadian aid directly to the most vulnerable.
Bruno Saccomani told guest host Hannah Thibedeau he met with leaders of the Yazidi community on Monday to identify ways in which Canada can help civilians caught in the conflict.
"Our duty is to help."
"We met with the Yazidi leaders yesterday and we are working with them to find out what it is exactly that we can get to them.
"And basically it's, again, emergency relief, humanitarian aid — everything from water to shelter to medicine and to food. This is something we should be able to proceed with quite quickly."
Extremist Sunni militants have sent thousands of the country's minorities fleeing from their homes in fear.
U.S. fighter jets and drones have attacked militants who were firing on minority Yazidis around Sinjar, in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.
After Kurdish fighters opened a path to the border, thousands of Yazidis have been pouring across the river into Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria.
Saccomani worked as Harper's former head of security before he was appointed to lead Canada's embassy to Jordan and Iraq.
PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE
The leaders exchanged views on the developments in Iraq and the importance of providing support to the Iraqi people, including through humanitarian assistance.
They agreed on the need to confront the barbaric actions of the terrorist organization ISIS/ISIL and Prime Minister Harper expressed his strong support for U.S. air strikes against the terrorists as well as ongoing humanitarian relief efforts. Prime Minister Harper indicated Canada stands ready to offer additional help, and that Canadian officials will work with their counterparts to identify ways in which Canada can continue to support the humanitarian effort.
Both leaders shared their hope that a new Iraqi government would be able to unite behind an inclusive government to counter the current crisis. They agreed to stay in close contact on this matter.
With files from The Canadian Press